Portrait of a Character – Rita Spinelli
Rita Spinelli was originally a complete throwaway character and did not have a name. Once she had one, though, I decided I liked her, and I wanted to keep her.
I needed a character who would be an odd symbol of hope.
In the midst of the violent aftermath of the Third World War, during Colonel Phillip Green‘s reign, the multiverse is smashed together by an enemy called the Chilo. Heroes from several universes were summoned, in this epic crossover, to defeat the enemy. Some would be on ships (including Levi Cavendish and Branch Borodin), and some would be on the ground. That included Otra D’Angelo. But there also needed to be natives. Beyond Donald Janeway, Jared Riley, Liesl Green, and Cameron Petraeus, there would be one symbol.
Rita is ‘played’ by actress Christina Ricci. I love how she can speak in a monotone and almost be like a trauma victim, and then turn on a dime and be cutting. Rita keeps her feelings close to the vest.
Angry, damaged, and nine months pregnant, Rita leads a small resistance division against Green. But the Chilo are unlike anything she has ever seen before. When screwup Seymour Sonia practically falls into her lap, she treats him poorly, but still takes care of him, as she watches him becoming a coulamine (candy) addict. After he delivers her daughter, Speranza Memoria (Sky), Rita takes pity on Sonia and helps get him clean.
Sky’s unnamed father is dead. Donald, who had done computers work for Green, also falls in Rita’s lap. Like her, he has demons in his past. But in her he sees an opportunity to try to rise above it all, or at least to have a future. Nerdy and overly formal, he is the stability she needs. He is the only father Sky will ever know, and they are ancestors of Kathryn Janeway.
I write Mirror Universe women as being beholden to men for their happiness and safety.
She could potentially be much more delicate. She is a smart character, and so that could be a rather calculating move on her part, to play to helpless coquette in order to snag a higher class of man.
“Listen, we’re not selling fuckin’ Girl Scout cookies here! Now there are these big rainbow-y, uh, things out there, and they are taking over people. Sonia called ‘em Chilo. But the candy keeps ‘em away.”
For a character without much of a future, Rita becomes a rallying point for a damaged world. I just wish we had finished that story!
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